Music and the Omani Arts Economy

This event has already passed Location: Horchow Auditorium

Presented by the World Affairs Councils of America in partnership with the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center

Join Dr. Anne K. Rasmussen for a talk and short musical performance about the arts of Oman. The Sultanate of Oman is celebrated for its diverse musical styles and for the numerous musical initiatives of its supreme leader, His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos—from the Oman Center for Traditional Music (established in the early 1980s) to the Royal Opera House (opened in 2014). Through Oman's many ensembles, festivals, and special events, the extraordinary diversity of performance traditions is easily accessible to both the seasoned aficionado and the unsuspecting tourist. At the same time that the government has developed and nurtured its own unique regional music, it has also provided patronage to an international, trans-regional cohort of musicians by collaborating with artists and producers from Egypt, Iraq, and other Gulf nations. As a consequence, Oman’s music, while intensely local, also resonates with the musical styles and techniques of non-Omani nationals and their pan-Arab musical aesthetics. This presentation, richly illustrated with original photos and videos, updates ethnographic fieldwork, begun on the eve of Oman’s 40th National Day celebration in November 2010 and continuing through 2011–14, with fresh insight from fieldwork conducted in 2015 and 2017, that highlights some of the dynamics among musicians and people in the business of culture. 

Dr. Anne K. Rasmussen is Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology and the Bickers Chair for Middle Eastern Studies at the College of William and Mary, where she also directs the William and Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. Professor Rasmussen was the second Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center Research Fellow in 2010–2011. A recent Fulbright Scholar to Indonesia, Rasmussen currently serves as Past-President of the Society for Ethnomusicology.